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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  December 25, 2011 3:00am-4:00am EST

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it was too much. it was an issue. >> let's fast-forward to october of 2010. on the bill o'reilly show, one of the riff about muslims and 9/11 and you way and. you basically had two lines, two things you were trying to get across. first of all you describe that yourself could or did feel uncomfortable getting on an airplane and what did you follow that with? >> what i said was to set it up a little bit, muslims killed us on 9/11 and the context was an argument that he had had about a location of a mosque near ground zero and that is when he made the comment muslims killed us on
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9/11 which prompted two co-host's to walked off the set. and he said i am just talking about radical islamists or muslims and then they came back. it became a little sensitive. it was in the papers the next day. when bill had his own show he had me as his guest and said after showing the tape of this tell me where i went wrong? that is what i said i am not going to play political correct games with you. the fact is the people who attacked us on 9/11 were muslims and cited their faces as justification for the act they were engaged in jihad. i went on to say this thing about -- let me tell you in all honesty with the heartfelt admission. to this day when i am getting on an airplane and the double-breasted muslim guard my mind first and foremost identifying themselves as muslims i get a little nervous. it makes me anxious. the second point that you offered me the opportunity to say that this is taken out of context. i went on to say america is a
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land of religious liberty and i would be upset if anybody would draw conclusions about my fellow christians on the basis of the actions of timothy mcveigh and we have to be careful not to stereotype people or encourage actions such as the minister in action who wanted to burn the koran. we should not be doing that. we have to be aware this anxiety exists in the american mind after 9/11. the fact that there is an indisputable connection between radical islam and terrorism in the world but at the same time we have to preserve american principles of independence, judging people as individuals and protecting their liberty, particularly religious liberty. >> some folks heard the first part and ignored the second. >> if it was just that i think it would be forgivable in my mind and i have to work on my own level of forgiveness but
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what it was was there are people who are invested in attacking and trying to make a larger point and they were willing to sacrifice me and my journalistic independence to do it. the council on american islamic relations cared, bit like the idea that anybody would engage bill o'reilly to their point and say i won't play games with you. i think you were right because our look at the facts of who were in those planes and use those airplanes as instruments of terror so that anybody giving any affirmation to bill at that moment they viewed as their enemy and they took that, and out of context and began a campaign on the basis of calling me a bigot. >> you got a phone call from npr. >> i have no clue that anything was going on and two days later i was asked the first question out of the box was what did you mean? i said i said what i meant.
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that is exactly what i meant and that was followed up with we have people who dress in muslim garb. that is an offensive bigoted statement. i never discriminated against anybody and was calling for discrimination. didn't say people should not be allowed on airplanes or nothing like that and you violated the journalistic standard of npr. whatever you say cannot be trusted by our audience. i set i worked here ten years. can't we have a conversation? you need to look at the entirety of the transcript to understand what was said was that in order to establish a level of trust and honesty and to make a larger point about religious liberty to which i was told there is nothing you can say or do that will change our mind. you are fired. >> you were fired over the phone. you could describe them as unfortunate comments about you that followed from the npr
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officials. >> yes. unfortunate. the thing about glenn is glenn is a pulitzer prize-winning reporter and is so droll. he said unfortunate. you don't want to reveal -- in this role when i am allowed to say outrageous comments suggesting whenever juan williams said should be kept between him and his psychiatrist. this is said by the head of npr in front of microphones and tv cameras. on two levels i find this bizarre. one is now i am mentally unstable and not to be trusted and marginalized and i don't see a psychiatrist. the second level is even if i was seeing a psychiatrist, what is wrong with that? that would be my business and has no relevance to the comments that i made.
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i thought it was an ad hominem attack and an effort to diminish my credibility and anybody who was watching -- >> they see you. >> look at that. >> you present this entire episode at the beginning of "muzzled: the assault on honest debate" but "muzzled: the assault on honest debate" goes on to make a strong argument about the dangers of stifling and honest debate and uses the opening argument but your argument on a whole array of issues and you go down from abortion to gun control to healthcare that we are not able to have a healthy debate because of the kinds of things that did you win at npr. >> that is right. i wanted to drive this point home because often when i do interviews about the book, we stop with the npr episode but that is only the first chapter
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of the book. 90% of the book is about larger condition of honest debate in american society and how this week is a year since this happened to me. but how in fact what i discovered is after feeling smeared and fired at her that this was about much more than me. this was about so many people would come up to me and say i have been in airports and had the same feeling, but people who come up to me and say it is hard to speak honestly in this country about so many things. they have to bite their tongues and are told you don't want to say that because someone might take it the wrong way or be offended or call you a bigot or a racist. that you are just at risk if you speak your mind in the current context. people say to me how can that be? i can turn on the radio and tv and i can hear the most outrageous comments being made
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by provocateurs and that is absolutely right. but the problem is for people who are trying to listen and to engage in honest conversation in which they might admit they were wrong or learn something from the other side there is a sense in which that is not allowed. i think that people are told there republican in name only if they vary from republican orthodox, they are told if you aren't with us you are against us. it seems to me that there are all these inhibitions placed on people. you stop and think about it in terms of you covered the middle east, people who will say you are not a good jew if you are questioning israeli policy or you are not sensitive to the palestinians if you say the palestinian behavior is terroristic and outrageous.
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all of a sudden -- that is an example where i think globally it is hard to have an honest conversation. >> you are even being handed here -- the left and right are guilty of this. sounds like you're still reporter. >> it is true because it is not confined to one side. in the new york times there is a piece in which he is talking about the robert bork hearings and he is talking about he was -- senator kennedy -- the robert bork's america speech avoided looking at this man's judicial record. instead refers to engage in a very personal attack intended to smear him and to ruin his public reputation so that he can be defeated because they know if they look at the record and make it a matter of a constitutional argument that bork is accessible and likely to be put on the court and they don't want to risk it for fear he is a vote
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against abortion. the same thing happened in the thomas hearing. these things happen and you look at it on the perspective of the right, here i am in austin but when you hear eric fleisher from white house podiums a people have to be careful when they say, you are not allowed to say you have differences about american foreign policy in terms of intervention in iraq, you are being told to shut up. >> i understand the argument. there's one thing in the front of the book where your dedication is dedicated to several groups including fox news, the dedication says standing tall in the face of speaking the truth is the heart of great journalism. there are people out there who wonder how fox news fits into that. your friends at fox news stood
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by you. stood by you. i get that. but while should the rest of us be grateful to fox news? don't they economize in some way exactly the overheated political huckster reason you are condemning? >> no. there are so many people who would point to hannity, just obama bashing but the fact is if you watch most of the news during the day you are getting new is done by first class journalists. i think the problem would be people would say despite it is the no. one cable channel in america so lot of people watch it and it is fun and interesting but people say you hear outrageous things or you see people, especially the prime-time host engage in slanting the news and slanting it in one specific direction to
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the right. i say yes, but they also have people like me there. no one tells me what to say. no one says you are not welcome because you are not an orthodox conservative leaders and you are not our kind of conservative. that has never been true. to my mind i wish more of the critics would watch the product and then come to the conclusion. my experience is a lot of the critics never watched it. they're comfortable with the reflexive condemnation without assessing what is being delivered. [applause] >> i think you have some fans here. >> i appreciate it because i get beat up as you can tell. >> let me take it a little further. bill o'reilly stood by you and has been a true friend. you write in the book i find his show balanced in a way few talk
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shows can match. are we talking about the same bill o'reilly? who is famous for dialing up the rhetoric and in flaming things like for example the kansas dr. featured in something like 29 episodes over a five year period. bill reilly called him the baby killer guilty of nazi stuff, operating at death mill, he has blood on his hands. how does that work for you? how does that work in terms of bill o'reilly as -- >> bill riley is anti-abortion, clearly of a mindset that said he felt a killer in terms of conducting late term abortion was someone that for him was an abomination. that is the way he felt. i don't have an objection to him saying it. when the rhetoric gets to the point you can connect it to killers and murderers it is
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problematic and i would urge -- >> that is a soft term. >> remember the argument after gabriel guilford's was shot. there was this reflexive attitude from the left, oh, the shooter must have been listening to right wing talk rhetoric and that is -- there was never any direct connection between that shooter and talk radio or right wing rhetoric of any kind. i don't think bill o'reilly said to this person go to the church and kill the doctor. you are creating an environment where you have demagogues and someone acts but that is the vague link i would argue that is going to happen in a free society where you allow people to argue and make their point
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and bill o'reilly is a talk-show host and is making his point. i disagree with it deeply. i am not someone who is anti-abortion. but that to me is within the bounds of free and honest conversation. he is accountable for what he said. >> let me quote a fairly wise quote to. talking about commentators saying they make money by making our problems worse. the more bitter the divide over an issue the more intractable problem, brighter they shine but their vitriolic displays the people away from getting involved in politics. that is what you wrote. doesn't that apply to many of your friends at fox? >> some of them. you are talking about the opinion people. talking about the opinion pages. if i am talking to conservatives they say is that new york times op-ed page is filled with liberals and they are making the most outrageous claims and we don't agree with that or they
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say npr or they say look at hollywood and the movies. people from the left would say what about the wall street journal editorial page or fox news or talk radio. you get people locked in these boxes and now we are talking about the larger environment. without a doubt media in america has the cited this is a niche landscape and you make money by catering to specific audiences that have one set of opinions or another. that is what is happening at the wall street journal and new york times and all around us. it is not peculiar to fox news. they make money by affirming oftentimes opinions. especially smart people in the audience are trying to have a varied media diet and appreciate when they hear a contrarian point of view. my fear that i was writing about
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is too often people get locked into one box or another and what drives the national conversation and sets the parameters for honest debate comes from the far right and the far left and you're not allowed to stray from their belief. if you stray from their belief you get into this no man's land where people say you are weak and needed and spineless. what are you considering the other side? that is bad. we need to have the freedom to talk and argue and debate and be wrong. i don't see a problem with it. if it is not an indication i have a bad person. [applause] >> you say you are still an npr fan but you also advocate the funding of npr. let's talk about that. where npr goes from here.
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>> for me there are two things to say. one is local and the our stations are journalistic jams that we have to protect because they play such an important role. [applause] i used to raise money for that with all my heart. in an era where we have declining local coverage from newspapers and npr stations and talk-show hosts they reflect the community in a way that is rare right now in the media landscape. if you are talking about npr washington, people who i think our self righteous and even limited in their thinking, what is going on here? these people are 1-sided and believe they are the only people who are practicing honest journalism in america. there are going to look down at
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anybody who is doing anything differently. i find that crazy. the bigger point about defunding is this which i say to you as a fellow journalist. in january of this year or january or february there was a letter from the head of the democratic congressional campaign committee saying we have to stop these republicans in their efforts to defund npr because npr is our answer to rush limbaugh. i thought to myself so if i may journalist at npr i have to make sure i am pleasing my patrons on the left for fear they would abandon me and leave me to be defunded by the right. i think journalists should not put themselves in such an untenable position. they shouldn't be pleasing one side or the other. do the job. do the journalism. the new york times and washington post and fox news get
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advertising and npr has an affluent and well-educated audience. the advertisers would love access to that audience. >> you are aware of the problem. you just raised the local station and they got 10% of their budget from the federal money. npr in washington legates 1% or 2%. >> that is what we're talking about. they say they get 1% or 2% but hide the fact and this is duplicitous that so much money flows through local stations. it is a lie hidden in here. if you talk about the local stations again i think you can form different funding structures and ask people especially in the audience -- i don't think the audience will abandon the local stations. you will have some consolidation especially in rural areas where they have small audiences so that npr stations in bigger areas would serve smaller markets. you're seeing this as a phenomenon in terms of the ncr system but it is not that anyone
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will lose coverage and lose access to npr. >> might be a good time to turn the floor over to questions. where do people go to ask a question? where is the microphone? let's take one from the front. do we have any means? all right. [inaudible] >> we can't hear you. >> there we go. >> we have an interesting situation with hurricane moving into a leadership position in the race. we have a direct conversation with obama which would be the better choice for america and black americans?
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aren't they trying to do the same thing to herman cain that they did to you in a way? >> this is really interesting. i have noted that herman cain is described as a bad apple, herman cain is described as someone who has offended black people by the suggestion of brainwashing. the attacks on herman cain from the far left seem to me to be evidence of how frightened they are by herman cain and part of your question is how would he do with black america? herman cain is saying wait a second. how has president obama performed for black america? how has he performed for all americans in asking hard political questions that go beyond racial identity simply saying this is the first black president, automatically you should support him.
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herman cain is breaking down that paradigm. a lot of them but particularly people who dominated the thinking on the left in the black community herman cain is a big threat. herman cain can make the case, this has been touched on, racially sensitive, he is a southerner who comes from morehouse and been through so much of the black experience that even president obama can't claim. so it really is an excitable nerve in terms of the black community and people saying don't go there. we don't want to do that but people are talking about it. if you think of him as a churchgoing gospel singer and all the rest herman cain said he could get a third of the black vote. he might be able to. if that is the case you are really shifting american politics. taking a third of the democratic vote, that is a game changer with changing demographics in society.
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>> we have a microphone over here and a line forming. >> thank you for coming. we all appreciate it. i watch fox news and am as nbc and i watch them to get different points of view and opinions. what turns me off on those programs is when they bring in two or three guests simultaneously with different points of view and end up yelling and screaming over each other so you can't hear any side. [applause] do the producers think this is good tv? >> no and i got to tell you something. you are not the only one who feels this way. it is a struggle because sometimes you get guests who think by raising the volume of their voice they're making a better point. sometimes the people with the weakest point feel the need to screen the loudest. what it does is turns off the audience. people say i can't stand this.
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screaming and shouting. they don't even do this. they push the button. it is a problem. the others thing is people say why do you guys -- the host on and on venue invite the guests in so we hear what the guest has to say as well? these are flaws. people watch in large part the reason they come to the party because of the domineering strong personality of the host. that brings people in but at the same time the fact that i am on fox is evidence of this, people do value other points of you and want to see real discussion and debate. you'd identified a critical problem that everybody on the executive and producer level is
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extremely concerned about. [inaudible] >> okay. let's take these questions in order. >> eunice and pr? >> i miss npr. >> in the years you were fired by npr as you look back and the debits and credits, how do you come out with the perspective -- how you come out on the effect of your case on the political discourse and political correctness in the united states? >> i am thinking about this lot this week being the one year market. as i was saying to glen, initially i am a human being. i was very hurt. glenn mentioned i have written books about the civil rights movement. i celebrate people who are activists and made a difference in this world and helped us to
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be a better country. the idea that someone was going to label me a bigot at this point in my life is unbelievable to me. i didn't understand it. i felt hurt. people said you are okay. fox give you a big contract. what is interesting is men always bring up the money. women say to me are you ok? [applause] but i learned very quickly -- i had this experience the day after it happened. npr trumpeted to the world as if they were so proud of the fact they had gotten rid of this terrible person, suddenly i was coming out of the hotel room and newspapers were stacked on the floor in front of the door and they're my picture was on the front of the new york times and i thought that is obnoxious.
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i kicked it away and there was on usa today. oh my god! did i kill somebody? what happened? it was because i felt it was about me. a year later i can fully is that is exactly wrong. what i found out is so many people -- the reason people responded to this, the reason the news media responded, abc said to me i can't believe we reached a point where you can't say how you feel. so many americans left and right, from john stuart to sarah palin, said you can't shut people up and tell them they are not allowed to express their feelings much less build on those feelings in the course of formulating an argument or debate or opinion. that is just not right. it became a larger issue. to that extent a year later i am glad if it helped to break apart this don't talk.
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new york told to shut up kind of structure that i think is fed by the lobbyists in washington and perpetuated by political polarization that leaves us down the road where we don't deal with critical issues ranging from immigration to the debt ceiling to the budget to terrorism. we are all inhibited. we have to get away from it. time to speak up. if this episode helps to break apart that awful phenomenon i am all for at. i am glad it happened. [applause] >> the terminology that restricts freedom of speech you quoted the phrase if you are with us you are against this which i quite agree with, bush
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said the phrase when he addressed the nation that parked about -- to suppress dissent on 9/11? >> i don't know if it was that but had the impression of saying to people descend and discussion was not being invited. you had to be clearly with it or against it. in a moment of global terror i think this was really much more nuanced groups and a statement. the impact was as you described to give him credit what he was saying was he wasn't going to allow states to sponsor terrorism and then say they had nothin >> the news of the day. you never get any kind of depth, any kind of context. is there anything that can be
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done considering fox got one of the one person who was doing that on june 30th? >> you mean glen beck? my sense is you never get away from live. live drives up ratings. live and immediate and taking people to the scene when possible is what the audience wants from cable news. they have migrated from the networks for live news coverage. you go to the cable networks and hopefully you go to fox. it is not a history channel. it is not an in depth channel. i was amazed that glenn ran through his lessons and got such a huge audience but he was. you are not going to get that -- not a reasonable expectation. not that anyone will go in that direction but it is important that people obviously be
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educated and bring some perspective to any debate taking place. >> we have time for one more. >> do you think there's any chance we can get back to an independent voice? a lot of people, and on this. one channel or the other is leaning in one direction. fox and am s nbc not sure what they want to do but may be going back to the 50s and 60s where the objective was to be more independent. >> i grew up in a 60s and for me walter cronkite was a hero. i didn't say is that by left-wing or right-wing? i didn't say exactly what is his opinion of this? i wanted to know the facts he was delivering. i don't think he would be successful in the current media environment. people would say he is boring and bland and always telling you
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what happened as opposed to pumping it up with some perspective, attitude and opinion. it is a huge shift that has taken place and right now we are in a niche media landscape. we do less of what i would say is walter cronkite type broadcasting. we do much more of what i think is more of the narrowcasting and you get people locked into these boxes perpetuated by the fact that the base wilton and and reaffirm their preexisting points a few and the people in the middle, you can count on them. this is driving the political polarization in washington too. where do we go in the next generation? how do we deliver an interesting and fun and sexy and compelling product and at the same time make it is a double of credibility? to me to finish up on the notion
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of journalism, i think it is important that people realize even in discussing a topic like terrorism that as we are here today the political cartoonist in seattle in hiding because she drew muhammed and people immediately sent in death threats. it is important to understand that you have to be honest enough to say this is the impact terrorism has not only globally but in the united states in terms of inhibiting free conversation. you have to be willing to say when van gogh is killed for making a documentary about how muslims treat women or daniel pearl of the wall street journal be headed, we have to speak honestly and directly about what terrorism means. you can't just say you are a bad guy because you point out the
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fact that there are people who want you to shut up and i won't shut up. [applause] >> we have time for a 20 seconds question and a 40 seconds answer. >> thank you for coming here. my question is have you seen any evidence of muzzling free speech taking place on college campuseses today? >> oh yes. this is so interesting. my son just got out of college and when he was in political science or history class he was pretty conservative. he is a republican. he would say to me he felt like he was not allowed to speak. he was constantly being beaten up. imagine a young black guy who is pretty conservative and feeling like he can speak and when he does it as an opportunity for
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people to pile on so they could never have an honest discussion. you asked me -- i have an example in front of me right there. i travel around to college campuses and i hear this all the time. if you look at the level of attitude and political affiliation is coming directly from the left. it is uniform. people fear if i am to the right i am not welcome. my point of view are immediately condemned as those of some kind of troglodyte. is not a good situation on a lot of campuses. >> of like a discussion for another day. we want to thank juan williams and all of you. >> thanks for coming out. >> juan williams will be in the book signing tend. you can purchase your book at the bar and then noble tennant up the road toward the capital and come back to the book
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signing can't. thank you very much. [applause]
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his newest release, "sex on the moon." >> host: ben mezrich, where did you find the story of "the accidental billionaires"? >> guest: you know, that one actually came at random, a random e-mail, 2 in the morning. i was sitting at home, and it was a harvard stupid, and he said -- student, and he said my best friend founded facebook, and no one's ever heard of him. >> host: when was this? >> guest: wow, it had to have been -- it gets all mixed up because of "the social network" movie. i guess about two years before the movie came out, so 2008 or so? it was right before the movie "21" came out. the e-mail was right out of the blue, and my wife had forced me to be on face wook, so -- facebook, so i knew what it was.
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so i went out to work with this guy, and it was eduardo who andrew garfield play inside the movie, and he was angry. he was really angry. um, and a little drunk. and he wanted to tell me a story, and that's how i got into it. >> host: why did he send an e-mail to you? >> guest: well, i've become kind of the go-to guy for every college kid who does something ridiculous or crazy because of my books. i guess they have a big college audience, and these kids want to tell their story. and so i've kind of become that guy that when someone, you know, knocks over a lottery, you know, scam or whatever it is, they'll call me. so i get 30 or 40 of these a week. this was just one of them. and usually they're lame, they're not something i would want to do, but this was one that really caught my eye. >> host: so you went out, had drinks with eduardo. >> guest: and his buddy will, will was the one who sent me the e-mail. and eduardo started to

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